Great Ocean Road, Lorne
Whether you do it on your own or as part of the Great Ocean Road running festival, this amazing run along one of the world’s best roads, from Lorne to Apollo Bay, is a must-do. With the forest on your right and the ocean on your left, you wind your way along this most magnificent road, traffic-free. While the bluffs and inlets make it challenging, the views and the environment that you are in make it all worth it and the final run into Apollo Bay with the crowd support is a moment to cherish for the rest of your life.
Staircase Spur, Mount Bogong
This is the only run I’ve ever done that is tougher than a marathon. It’s a walk, really, but also one of the toughest trails to run up if you dare. It starts at Mountain Creek Campground just outside Mount Beauty and you meander along beside the river for a few kilometres before turning right and basically heading straight up to the peak of the highest mountain in Victoria, Mount Bogong, at 1986 metres. It is an hour or two of switchbacks and the view as you climb above the tree line is spectacular. But beware, it’s like no run you’ll ever have attempted before until, after enjoying the views at the top, you cruise back down again. If I see you after you have completed this run, you will either want to punch me or hug me!
Lake Wendouree, Ballarat
My spiritual home, this six-kilometre run around the lake is a must do for every runner. There are 500-metre markers, drink fountains and plenty of flora and fauna to keep you interested. It is one of the world’s great city lakes and, despite having run around it many hundreds of times, there is always something new that you pick up on each and every lap. The added bonus is the adjacent Botanical Gardens and Victoria Park, which are fascinating places to meander around in their own right but if you add them to the lap then you have the ultimate 10 or 12-kilometre run.
Two Bays Trail, Mornington Peninsula
I have only done parts of this trail, which is 28 kilometres one way from Cape Schanck to Dromana, but the parts I have done I really enjoyed. There is a race on it, but I preferred to do it in my own time as the remoteness allowed me to become embedded in the surrounds. It is a single track that undulates through the picturesque countryside until you get to Arthurs Seat, where you climb steeply to the top and then drop down into Dromana. It is certainly challenging in parts, but the scenery makes it well worth your while. Take fluids and snacks to keep you on top of your game.
Warrnambool to Port Fairy Rail Trail
Again, I have only completed half of this trail. I like to begin at Logans Beach, where you might spot some whales as you set off. Work your way along the foreshore past the Warrnambool Surf Club and out to the breakwater, then take Viaduct Road and head back past the Lady Bay Resort towards Lake Pertobe, where you pick up the Port Fairy Rail Trail and follow this track alongside the Merri River to Swinton Street and Levy’s Point Coastal Reserve before heading inland across paddocks into the town of Koroit. I then return to Warrnambool, but the trail continues to beautiful Port Fairy, which I think is one of Australia’s best coastal spots to visit for a swim, a walk or to just indulge in the fine food and coffee. The trail is 37 kilometres long, with the Warrnambool-to-Koroit section measuring roughly 20 kilometres. It is flat and provides a good mix of scenery – from beaches to river flats to farmland – with some parts well populated and other sections where you are unlikely to see a soul.
Grampians National Park
I love the Grampians National Park as a place to visit. My favourite run starts at Delley’s Bridge, just as you come into Halls Gap from Ararat. You basically just run in a southerly direction along Fyans Creek. Follow the Terraces Track (which is part of the Boronia Peak Trail) past the Brambuk Cultural Centre and then on to the hilly section of the trail. Don’t turn off and head up to the peak, keep heading south as you rise above Lake Bellfield on your right and then continue on the Bellfield Track until you reach Grampians Road, just before Borough Huts Campground. It is only about a 15-kilometre run one way, but it is very tough, so you might just want to choose an out-and-back section to do. The first section is my personal favourite. Make sure you explore the other wonderful walks and drives throughout this beautiful part of the world.